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Soldier is told to go and buy his own boots

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A Galway TD has told the Dáil of a soldier being forced to buy his own boots because a new pair could not be issued to him at his local barracks.

Independent Deputy Noel Grealish cited the incident as an example of how the reorganisation of the Defence Forces had been ‘an unmitigated disaster’.

In a Priority Question to the Minister of State at the Department of Defence, he also asked why soldiers from Galway were being transported to Cork every day, to carry out their duties, and soldiers from Finner in Donegal were being transported to Dublin.

“Does the Minister of State accept that the reorganisation of the Defence Forces into a two brigade structure has been an unmitigated disaster?” he asked.

“At present, the Naval Service is short 38 staffing officers. One of our naval vessels was unable to put to sea because no engineering officer was available.

“Soldiers are having difficulty accessing basic items such as replacement uniforms. Last month I heard of a soldier who had to buy a pair of boots because a new pair could not be issued to him locally.”

The Galway West Independent TD also suggested that In light of Brexit, the reorganisation of the Defence Forces had left Ireland exposed, should a managed Border become necessary.

And he asked if the reorganisation was a significant factor in the negative findings of the Defence Forces climate survey of 2015, a survey of members of the Defence Forces aimed at measuring satisfaction or otherwise on a wide range of ‘well-being’ issues.

In reply, Junior Minister Paul Kehoe said that the re-organisation of the Defence Forces, finalised in October 2012, resulted in a reconfiguration of the Defence Forces operational processes from a garrison-based system to a more flexible, deployable system that made more efficient use of all resources, including personnel.

“The Deputy referred to personnel having to travel from barracks to barracks or from where they live to a barracks that may not be in their locality.

“Bearing in mind the brigade structure, I have asked that when recruit classes are being taken in, personnel be located in the barracks closest to where they live. That will solve a considerable number of the problems.

“A considerable number of problems arose after the reorganisation. We are trying to solve them and relocate personnel to the barracks closest to where they live. For personnel with expertise in specific areas, it does not always work that way.”

Pressed by Deputy Grealish, Minister Kehoe said he was not aware of a naval ship not being able to go to sea because of an issue associated with engineering personnel. Nor was he aware of personnel not being able to get parts of their uniforms, but he would like to hear about such incidents.

Connacht Tribune

School walkway remembers much-loved member of staff

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Minister Frank Feighan with Lucy Daly's family at the opening of Lucy’s Way (from left) Lucy's father Jackie O'Shea, her sons Niall and Aaron Daly, and her mum Florrie O’Shea.

A Galway school unveiled its new sensory walkway as a lasting memorial to its much-loved secretary who passed away earlier this year.

Lucy’s Way at Esker National School is named after Lucy Daly, and fittingly her sons Niall and Aaron were on hand to cut the ribbon with Junior Minister for Health, Frank Feighan, recently.

The Minister was at the Athenry school to also officially open the school’s new Outdoor Classroom and Sensory Gardens, as well as the Walkway – just as summer begins to bloom.

Also in attendance also were the Bishop of Galway and Michael Duignan; Monsignor Cathal Geraghty; Karen Cotter from Active School Flag, Andrew McBride from Healthy Ireland and Karen Colcannon representing Galway Sports Partnership.

The work was completed in a voluntary capacity by parents of the school, the local Rural Social Scheme and staff members with the support of school management.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

No room in the city – so college students told to look at Tuam or Athenry

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NUIG...accommodation advice.

Students coming to NUIG this September have been advised by the college to check out their accommodation options… as far away as Tuam, Oughterard, An Spidéal or Athenry.

Unfortunately, that is likely to prove as fruitless as searching for a flat in the city, because those involved in the rental sector say that there is very little available around the county either.

A trawl through accommodation websites reveals an extremely limited supply of rental properties across the county – particularly when it comes to those suitable for students.

And even when there is availability, you won’t find a one-bed property for much for less than €1,000 as the dearth of rental accommodation has resulted in owners demanding close to city prices.

Tuam auctioneer Michael Mannion said that there are very few properties to be had, and the vast majority of those that come to the market will not suit students.

“We don’t have them at the moment, and it is futile for NUIG suggesting they look at the likes of Tuam – or any other similar-sized town for that matter in the county,” he said.

“There is no problem about accepting students, but the houses and apartments are not there to accommodate them. There is no building going on and while this is the case, there are very few properties up for rent,” Mr Mannion added.

Student accommodation in Galway City averages out at around €1,500 per month which is putting a major financial strain on families.

NUIG recently advised students to consider seeking accommodation in Tuam (22 miles from the college), Oughterard (18 miles), An Spidéal (12 miles), Moycullen (8 miles) or Athenry (15 miles).

The NUIG Students Union described the fact that NUIG is recommending that other areas outside the city as a reflection of the current situation.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Government bows to pressure on rural work schemes

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Minister Heather Humphreys.

SWEEPING reforms to a number of local employment schemes – announced this week by the Government – have allayed fears among West of Ireland communities over the future of thousands of rural jobs.

A six-year time limit for participants in the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) has now been axed by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys – if that clause had remained, 45 positions in Galway would be cut from February 1 next.

The package of reforms has been warmly welcomed by West of Ireland TDs and public representatives including Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte and East Galway Fine Gael TD, Ciaran Cannon.

“We’ve all worked very had to bring these changes about, and at a time when it’s nearly impossible to get workers, these are common-sense measures which will mean an awful lot to villages, towns and communities across the West of Ireland,” said Anne Rabbitte.

According to Deputy Ciaran Cannon, the abolition of the six-year participation rule in the Rural Social Scheme was one of the central points raised at a huge public meeting in Athenry at the end of May.

“The Minister hopes to effect the abolition of the rule within a very short timeframe thus clearing the way for participants to remain working on the Rural Social Scheme up to retirement age,” said Deputy Cannon.

The reforms – confirmed by both Minister Humphreys and Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday – will apply to the RSS; Tús [a one-year community work placement scheme]; and Community Employment (CE) schemes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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